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Bayview kids head to Africa and France
thanks to Bayview Opera House

By Pat Murphy

Copyright fogcityjournal.com 2006

May 26, 2006

Bayview youngsters prepare for a return trip to Africa and France next month arriving shoulders back and standing tall already versed in the local language.

The trip set for June 27 through July 2 is the product of community support for the ongoing Bayview Opera House program, which ballooned its trip coffers this week through a tear stained and laughter lifted art auction.

Auctioneer Reggie Dickerson, a rising San Francisco performer
as a Sammy Davis, Jr. look-alike, starts the bidding.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

Tears came in video and again at the City Club Tuesday from emotional impact of travelers seen standing in an African dungeon where locals had crossed the point of no return into slavery.

The video also elicited laughs as Bayview young ones related their childhood once-over of Africa - 'The electricity was better than I thought it would be.'

Shelley Bradford-Bell shares a laugh with benefactor Joe O'Donoghue joined,
at left, by Mayor Willie Brown's daughter Susan Brown.

Susan Brown with art connoisseur Henry Winston.

Shelley Bradford-Bell produced the documentary video of the Bayview Opera House first trip to Africa and France made in 2004. Stops included Dakar, Senegal and Paris, France.

As director of development and long range planning for the Opera House, Bradford-Bell led the trip laughing loudest and the last to stop tearing.

And the students, drawn from Opera House language programs developed in coordination with the San Francisco Unified School District, rarely stopped beaming as they made their introductions in French to the French native born.

Itinerary included France to study French history of African embrace.

Next month the journey begins again honoring the 100th birthday of actress Josephine Baker, who made her 1925 debut in La Revue Nègre at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

When nazis banned jews and blacks from French theater in 1940, Baker went underground as an agent for the French resistance. Her triumphant resurfacing in 1944 included receipt of the French Medal of Honor.

Former Mayor Willie Brown helped launch the first trip with a $50,000 donation, Bell recalled.

Ten children aged 9 to 11-years-old participate in the trips.

"These youngsters participate in a special program on the language, history, art and culture of Dakar, Senegal and Paris, France," explained Bell.

"They learn basic French, prepare an art project for exhibition in France and Africa, and learn about the history and culture of Senegal and France. The ten youth selected for the 2006 tour will be joined by those who took the tour in 2004.

"The purpose is to continue to enhance the knowledge and experience of these children as they grow to young adults. By the year 2014 the program will have 50 new and return youth between the age of 9 and 21 participating in the tour.

"The children attend after-school workshops and classes at the Bayview Opera House. French classes are provided by the Alliance Française of San Francisco. They are held once a week. The youth will also attend a Saturday art workshop, where they will prepare the paintings they will exhibit in Paris and Senegal."

To donate, click here.

Susan Horsfall, right, with program director Shelly Bradford-Bell.
Bell credits Horsfall with program coordination heavy lifting.

Sentinel columnist Pat Murphy tries a hand at auctioneering.

Who is that white boy auctioneer?
Judith Blackwell.

Civil rights activist and fundraiser Fred Naranjo, at right.

Former Supervisor Alycia Becerril with Sentinel publisher Luke Thomas.
Photo by Fred Naranjo




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